Monday, April 16, 2007

Financial Self-discipline

My wife and I have been looking at homes since we got married a year and a half ago. I had bought our present home before she came to the US. I bought it primarily as an investment because I was able to buy it well below its appraised value. My wife never has liked the house, so she has been unhappy living here. The primary reason I started my real estate business was a desire to have the financial where-with-all to buy her a nice home.

Most of the houses we look at are out of our financial reach at the moment. There are few homes in our school district that are both affordable and meet her desires. We find houses from time to time that come on the market that look great to her, but so far all are about $40-80k more than I think we can afford. So, inevitably her spirits are crushed after she gets excited about a house we have seen and I fail to match her excitement because all I can think about is the high price.

One of my financial weaknesses throughout my life has been making decisions on large money investments (usually homes) before we were financially ready. Until just this year I never had an emergency fund and used lines of credit to fund the odd emergency. I have usually been torn between living with an unhappy spouse or going further into debt (Before marriage we males used "If you loved me you'd have sex; after marriage I've often heard "If you loved me you would buy me a ..." - but, that's a subject for anther post). Usually I have chosen to go into debt for the short term payoff of a happy spouse. But in my view purchasing things hasn't led to long term happiness.

When a couple has a large divergence on financial matters it creates lots of friction. I've often read (but don't have data to confirm) that a large portion of marriages fail due to financial disagreements. My ex constantly complained that I was too "controlling" with regards to our finances. We were in constant financial difficulties thatI thought were due to her overspending. In my mind the proof came after our divorce when we were both able to live on half my income and maintain our lifestyles.

Buying a house right now would crush our ability to fund our new real estate business. I just hope that I have the self-discipline to keep the "must have a new house to be happy" outlook at bay.

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